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Summary of the Event and the Theories to be Used
The refugee crisis in Europe is a situation or rather an event I would analyze given the fact that research has shown over 5.2 million migrants and refugees from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries have arrived and continues to arrive in Europe.
This event will be evaluated under the theories of realism and liberalism since the theories provide a better understanding of the international arena.
The theories further help us through various lenses to break down the crisis to a level that can best suit the dynamics world of migration and human rights.
Realism and Liberalism in explaining the refugee crisis in Europe
International Relations Theories shed light on the issue of peace, a situation that in most cases lead to states become hostile. To understand refugee crisis in Europe, realism and liberalism theories tries to bring an understanding for peace as a prospect that can be looked at from the lenses of war, and the reason as to why the event continues to reoccur through the determining factors of action as a cause, reaction, hostility, cooperation and peace between nations in the international systems. Realism emphasizes on the need for protection of national security as an utmost factor in the anarchical setting, where every nation has the power and ability to act out of its self-interest for the purpose of remaining in power. In other words, realist leaders in the western world cannot justify the entry of refugees in Europe without thinking of the issue of general domestic discord as well as terrorism. In 2016 alone, over 4.5 million immigrants were displaced from Syria and Turkey thus moving into Europe for asylum (Carrera et al., 2015).The multiplication of the terrorist groups, as well as the eruption of wars, is the reason behind the massive immigration of the people in Europe with the hope of building their lives. However, looking at the situation through the realism theory it may seem to appear that Europe does not have to allow the people in its territories on grounds of security discourses.
Realism only aims at providing a useful insight into the refugee crisis, through the investigation of a peaceful co-existence among different people. In other words, in applying the realism theory on the current refugee crisis in Europe, we understand that the act of perceiving refugees as a threat to state security is as a result from the human will as well as the political agency. For instance, the refugee crisis was one of the major drivers or rather reasons of British Brexit-discourse, despite the fact that in 2015 the UK received approximately 40,000 refugees. By comparison, over 400,000 asylum seekers went to Germany, while over 160,000 within the same time moved to Sweden. This makes Europe be a country that has played homage to most refugees as evident from the overall population. Therefore, through classical realism, we can assert that humans are both objects of security as well as its subjects. In view of the public discourses, humans have a role in redefining the substance of security and not the national or international foreign policy elites. As earlier on mentioned, all people in this case refugees have to be included in the discourses (Linklater, 1990). This is because different interests develop into a common good thus the ability to evolve antagonistically without any violent outbreak. This can be applied in the case of the refugee crisis in Europe if for instance, all the interest of these people are taken into account. The process can be further made easier if the refugees, as well as the locals in Europe, can demonstrate open-mindedness and willingness to challenge each others' positions. As a result, security in Europe can be redefined, in the sense that the refugee crisis can eventually be taken as an opportunity to develop the country.
Liberalism argues for individual freedom since it holds that human beings are naturally good. In other words, liberalism theory emphasizes on human rights, individualism, universality, right to a fair treatment under the protection act, freedom from authority and the right to be treated with respect as well as freedom from social action. In this case, liberalism suggests that the effective way of describing state behavior is only through the lenses of an interdependent drive for peace. Looking at the refugee crisis in Europe, liberals argue that Europe and all other nations have a role in establishing a peaceful international community (Moravcsik, 2001). Refugees coming into Europe are not a threat to the nation's security but a chance for Europe to bring in economic advantage. In other words, a liberalist would look at the refugee crisis and welcome it as an opportunity for the nation's development in aspects of economic as well as global cooperation. However, many of the western states including Europe itself have suggested that refugees are people who only come into the country to occupy physical space as well as take away jobs from the locals. The issue has massively erupted to the extent of the nations rejecting refugees and in return suggesting on the changes to be made on the "cap" regarding the number of asylum seekers moving in the country. Further evidence shows how the refugees in Europe are referred to as "migrants", a title that strips them off their rights as suggested by the Human Rights Convention of 1951. All these acts greatly go against the theory of liberalism since international agencies are vital and states need to comply with the IOs set regulations as well as the rules of cooperation and interdependency.
Liberals believe that unity or rather cooperation among nations leads to mutual interests and common goals. In this case, Europe receiving refugees from other countries is an act that gives it a chance to work together with those nations in preventing the further eruption of wars as well as reduce armaments. It is from liberalism that we understand why Europe has agreed to effectively deal with the refugee crisis through measures such as resolving the root cause of the situation as well as helping all the refugees that need humanitarian assistance within and outside European borders. Both neoliberals and neo-realists believe in their impact on the state behavior through the international system. Even though Syria, Afghanistan, and even Europe have a variant security completion, all of them can work together in economic terms to translate interdependence that entails mutual benefits for all the involved parties. In most cases, democratic peace has been and continues to be a central proposition for both neo-liberalism and liberalism, where facts are explicit to show how hard it is for democracies to enter into war with each other. In other words, neither Syria nor Afghanistan and start a war with Europe just because it is hosting their people. Liberals argue for empowerment and placing of refugees above any other groups. This is what refugees in Europe need; to beloved, allowed to vote and even allowed to pursue their happiness regardless of the fewest restrictions that argue on the need to protect oneself from another. Refugees need safety and liberty and closing the gates for them on grounds of national security is an act against the core concept of liberty and worthless. Refugees entering Europe are fleeing from persecution, and the reason for the dangers they go through in the sea for the sake of saving their lives.
Europe can be described as a liberal world given the fact that it is ready to let in refugees and grant them their rights without any questioning. Liberals understand that a good place is that which protects and understands natural liberties as well rights of the refugees, thus must not abuse these individuals any further. Furthermore, in achieving common goals, Europe continues to inject global efforts in ending conflicts in areas that refugees are fleeing from. Europe through the aid of UN and other western countries are working towards ending the persecutions that continue to take place in Syria and other regions that have caused people to migrate (Ogier, 2016). The efforts include engaging in candid conversations regarding religious supremacy as well as oppression, illiberal policies and cultural norms in the society. What Europe is doing is liberalism where it is ready to do away with various anti-refugee sections that tent to term refugees as disproportional people who commit crimes in the asylum countries. The refugee crisis can further be evaluated through the traditionalist version extracted from the democratic peace theory which emphasizes on the need for democracy as a by-product of the asocial sociability. Allowing refugees to stay and well as take part in developing Europe's economy is an act that the affected nations like Syria should learn from and stop the war and in return cooperate with Europe in developing themselves.
The theory that best explains the refugee crisis in Europe
Both realism and liberalism theories explain the fact that the refugee crisis in Europe goes beyond issues of human rights. Realists argue against the issue of international relations where they conclude that if there is a winning side, then there also must exist a losing side. In other words, Europe has a role of maintaining its powerful state as well as self-reliance and accepting refugees in the country must first be looked at from the angle of security and state interests. In other words, playing homage to refugees can be a threat to Europe as a whole given the fact that realists pay attention to the matters that affect the state and not individual rights. It is therefore evident that realism theory may aim to argue for relative peace yet lack details to provide a clear explanation for the international status quo. In regard to the refugee crisis in Europe, realism does not provide a solution but rather justifies the fact that refugees are a threat to the security of the nation (Linklater, 1990). Thus it is conclusive that realism theory is not a reliable theory to use in evaluating the crisis issue in Europe.
In contrast to realism, liberalism theory which advocates for the need for a state to embrace international relations can be termed as the best in evaluating the refugee crisis in Europe. Liberals believe that state cooperation leads to the development of common goals such as creating world peace as well as controlling climate. In this case, hosting refugees can be seen as an act that can best promote cooperation with the nations facing insecurities like Syria. Furthermore, allowing refugees to enjoy their liberty rights not only benefit the individuals but also the state in terms of economy and global cooperation (Moravcsik, 2001).
Carrera, S., Blockmans, S., Gros, D., & Guild, E. (2015). The EU's Response to the Refugee Crisis: Taking Stock and Setting Policy Priorities.
Linklater, A. (1990). Beyond realism and Marxism: Critical theory and international relations. Springer.
Moravcsik, A. (2001). Liberal international relations theory: a social scientific assessment (No. 1-2). Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.
Ogier, R. (2016). Refugee crisis in Europe. Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), (141), 8.
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